Climate, Energy and Values: Surveys from Five Countries

If you are interested in how unconscious motivations (values) affect the social politics of climate change, behaviour change and development of the ‘climate issue’, you can download  a 23 page report with previously unpublished data that I’ve posted here –  Climate Change Energy and Values

The report draws on surveys completed over the past eighteen months for Greenpeace and conducted with CDSM (Cultural Dynamics www.cultdyn.co.uk), in China, India, the US, Brazil and Argentina, together with new population data from the UK.  Amongst other things it shows that:

  • a majority ‘believes in’ climate change in all five countries (China, India, the US, Brazil and Argentina), with strongest ‘belief’ in Argentina, then China, Brazil, US and India.  While there are always enough ‘disbelievers’ to populate a media ‘debate’, the weight of ‘belief’ is more than enough to support political action
  • In Argentina and China there are few differences in ‘believing’ in climate change across values groups at a MG level (Maslow Group – Settlers (Security Driven; Prospector, Outer-Directed; Pioneer, Inner Directed) but in Brazil, the US and India, Settlers skew to disbelieve (although not most Settlers) and Pioneers to ‘believe’.  This is consistent with earlier UK results.  The values behind such skews then determine the flavour and terms of climate change disputes, which are polarised in ‘bipolar’ media framing eg “believe or not” but they don’t reflect the national realities – most people, across all values groups, do now ‘believe’ (the media is out of date in this respect).
  • The reason for the remaining skews in eg India and the US is probably a legacy of past media and political polarisation, itself encouraged in these countries and eg in the UK by the way that climate change campaigns have been conducted.  This and other factors eg change-aversion in Settlers, are discussed with illustrations.
  • The surveys also included questions about whether people had noticed the climate was changing, whether they would like their next car to be an electric one, and others to do with lifestyle, climate and energy.  The ‘I’ve noticed it changing’ question was asked in Brazil and India, showing strong majorities agreeing. Yet these were 20 – 30% higher than those who ‘believed in’ climate change (taking combined answers over 100%).  The most likely explanation for people ‘noticing’ something which they ‘do not believe exists’ is that these two questions are both answered mainly intuitively rather than analytically but in different ways.  In some countries (not China) ‘belief’ has been politicised on an identity basis, whereas ‘the climate changing’ has not been politicised and can be answered from personal experience and the views of friends etc..
  • A question about ‘green lifestyles’ being for everyone shows a values skew across countries, consistent with this being a recent development/trend, first espoused by Pioneers, followed by Prospectors, and adopted last by Settlers [the usual dynamic]
  • The surveys show that the two VMs (Values Modes) most ready to ‘lead change’ on these issues are the TX Transcender Pioneers and NP Now People Prospectors.  The latter are typically under-represented in campaign NGOs eg threefold and the former, hugely over-represented.  There is a general failure by campaigning NGOs to capitalise on the potential of NPs, who are for example consistently strong advocates of climate action and renewable energies, and consistently the most enthusiastic eg about buying an electric car, across the countries surveyed.  NGOs which criticise NPs (eg for being ‘fun loving and materialistic’) are shooting themselves in the foot.

the report concludes:

“…

once ‘climate response’ is converted from an ‘issue’ into choices and opportunities to get ‘better things’, it can enter the mainstream and escape from the dysfunctional values stand offs that have bedevilled ‘climate action’ in many countries in the past.

This offers politicians an opportunity to fast-track ‘decarbonization’ of their economies and societies, and ‘detoxify’ the ‘climate issue’ in countries like the US where it has long been seen as problematic.  In the UK for example, we have surveyed the staff of Gentoo Group, which is a very green and successful housing company and found it is two thirds Prospector.  Achievement oriented, future-looking, success-seeking, optimistic and target driven, Prospector dominated organisations have long been the motor of vigorous economies: if they are now harnessed to greening economies, change may be extremely rapid.”

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  1. Pingback: Use the Tax To Move the Money to Stop Investment in Fossil Fuels | Three Worlds

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